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Sergey Karasev out in EuroBasket qualifier with a 'little sore leg'

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Sergey Karasev was held out of the Russian National team's game against Italy Wednesday due to what team coach Yevgeny Pashutina called a "little sore leg."

Karasev struggled in the Russian's opening game of the Eurobasket qualifying round against Switzerland, scoring three points in seven minutes of action. Russia lost the game to the Swiss 79-77, an upset by all accounts.  There was no indication after that game that the 6'7" shooting guard was hurt.  He last played in the final game of the Orlando summer league.

Via Google Translate, Karasev's head coach said, "Sergei little sore leg, so we decided to spare him. He will be missed against Italy, but that's no excuse. We have to win."  Some fans of Russian basketball wonder if the coach's comments are the real reason. Despite his experience with Team Russian and the NBA, Karasev was not part of the rotation.

Russia lost to Italy, 65-63, putting them at 0-2 in the qualifying round. The loss puts Russia in a deep hole as it attempts to get back in the first rank of European basketball. They must win their last two games to even have a chance to qualify for FIBA Europe's 2015 tournament.  They play Switzerland a week from Wednesday in Moscow and Italy again, this time in Caligari, Italy, on August 23.